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Autism also known as autism spectrum disorder, refers to a neurological and developmental disorder characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, verbal and nonverbal communication.


The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.



Autism is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Also, severe infections that affect the brain (meningitis, celiac disease, encephalitis, etc.) may cause autism.


Some cases are strongly associated with certain infections during pregnancy including rubella (German measles) and use of alcohol or cocaine and exposure to toxins.


Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood.


Other studies are looking at whether autism can be caused by other medical problems or by something in your child's surroundings.



A child with autism may:

  • have trouble changing from one activity to the next;

  • flap hands, rock, spin or stare;

  • get upset by certain sounds;

  • like only a few foods;

  • have limited and unusual interests-for example, talk about only one topic or keep staring at one toy.


Often, specialists work together as a team to figure out if there is a problem. In addition to the doctor, the team might include a psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and teacher.


There is no cure for autism, but doctors, therapists, and special education teachers can help kids learn to communicate better. A kid might learn sign language or get a message across by pointing at pictures. The care team also can help improve a kid's social skills, stuff like taking turns and playing in a group.



Culled from Staywellworld blog post dated April 13, 2017.

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